Patients infected with both hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV face an 80% higher rate of decompensated cirrhosis than patients infected only with HCV, according to a retrospective cohort study led by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The study, published in the March 18, 2014, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, compares data for 4280 patients co-infected with HCV and HIV who were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) with data for 6079 HCV-monoinfected patients. All of the patients were HCV treatment—naïve.
Even co-infected patients who responded well to ART and maintained controlled HIV RNA levels of less than 1000 copies/mL had a 60% higher rate of serious liver disease. Rates of decompensation were also increased among co-infected patients who had advanced liver fibrosis, severe anemia, and diabetes, and among patients who were not black.
“Our results suggest that serious consideration should be given to initiating hepatitis C treatment in patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C—particularly among those with advanced liver fibrosis or cirrhosis—in order to try to reduce the risk of serious, potentially life-threatening complications,” said the study’s lead author.